Sep 30, 2014

The Great October Book Giveaway

**Comments on this post are not included in any prize drawing. Please comment on the current giveaway post (click the image in the sidebar on the right that looks like the one above - it will take you to the current giveaway). Or, on the mobile site, click the "Rue and Hyssop" header above, and scroll down until you see the current giveaway.**

Welcome to the 4th annual Great October Book Giveaway!

A little over five years ago when I started off on this blog journey, I don't know that I ever expected to meet so many amazing people, stumble across innumerable delightful blogs, discover fantastic podcasts, and be introduced to the loveliest folks on social media.  The connections that I've made, and the interactions with the charming visitors to this blog, have been a gift. There is not one day I regret hitting "publish" on that first post. (Although there are some cringe-worthy posts in the dark recesses of this blog, I'm sure.)

This yearly party is my way of giving a big virtual hug to all the folks that have connected with me over the years, especially everyone who has ever stopped by to read a post here at Rue and Hyssop. This little blog holds a big place in my heart, and so do all of you (squeeze in - we'll all fit, I promise).

The Goods:

Books. And more books. Witchy books, herbal books, books on faeries, books about totems, books on ancestors, and more.  I could have given out chocolate, but I didn't trust myself to save it for all of you.  Buy your own Halloween candy - I'm tossing books in your trick-or-treat bag.

Here's the fun part - each book was bought directly from the author (either in person if I was lucky enough to meet them, or via the wondrous world of e-commerce) and they autographed them for you. Some even threw in an extra treat or two!  It's a double-bonus.  You get a little more of a personal touch than if you bought the book from an online big-box store, and the author gets the cash in hand (one small way you can support your favourite writers).  Another way to keep the love flowing is to buy directly from the publishers.  This year the good folks at Red/Wheel Weiser sent along two titles from their recent catalogue!

The Details:

*  I will post a giveaway approximately every four days this month.  You've got those four days to leave a comment on the blog post for that particular giveaway, and then I'll draw the winning name(s) and post the next giveaway. I'll leave dates and times in the posts, so you know when you need to have your entry in by.

*  This giveaway is specifically for folks that connect with me in some capacity.  In your comment, please let me know how you and I rub URL's (is that creepy)?  For example, simply say: "blog follower"  or "FB friend" or "Twitter follower" or however that applies.  If you look to the right, on my sidebar, you'll see the different ways we can connect.  If you are a brand new follower because you just stumbled across me or someone pointed you this way - welcome!  Have a look around and toss your name in the hat too.

*  Please ensure that there is a way for me to get a hold of you.  I'm not going to allow anonymous comments because I get terrible spam if I do, but you can use Open ID or a registered account to comment. For now I'm going to leave the comment moderation feature off, but if it turns out that I've got to spend time each day deleting comments, it may have to come back on.  Let's hope the Halloween gods get rid of the trolls for us.

* In the past I've run a very easy "leave a comment and you're done" giveaway.  I like this simple approach but I'm willing to consider a second entry if it's something you really want to do.  If you want to promo the blog/giveaway in some fashion and get brownie points for it - do your thing.  Just make sure that you comment a second, separate time, leaving the link to your promo.   Even if you share the giveaway all over the interwebs, I'm only going to allow a second comment.  I don't want this getting too crazy y'all.

* You will have exactly one week to respond to my request for your mailing address, and I'll send your book out within a week of receiving that info from you.  If you don't respond within 7 days, I will have to draw a new winner for that particular book.

* I am in Canada.  I will send the books to Canada, USA or overseas (according to the legal rambling below) at the most cost-effective shipping rates.  This means your book may arrive anywhere from 5 days to 5 weeks after I mail it.  (In Canada - approx 5 business days.  To Germany - approx 5 weeks.)

Legal Bits:

* This giveaway (or "sweepstakes") is open to all residents of Canada, (exluding Quebec residents) the USA, Great Britain, Europe, South America,  who are 18 years of age or older.  This giveaway is void where prohitibited by law.  Please be aware of the contest/sweepstakes laws in your area.

*  Canadian residents will be subject to a skill testing question before being able to claim their prize (this is standard law in Canada).  The skill testing question will be in a form similar to:  1 + 2 - 1 =

*  This giveaway is not for profit and no purchase is necessary to enter.

*  This giveaway is sponsored/administrated solely by this blog/blog author and is not affilitated with or sponsored by Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, or any other entity, nor can they be held liable.

* By leaving a comment intending to enter into the draw for the giveaway (or "sweepstakes") you are knowingly agreeing to these rules/conditions.

I have chosen all the books featured this month myself, based upon new publications I've been made aware of, or authors I have met in person, or simply based on a whim.  I have not been paid to feature a book, nor have I been asked to advertise for anyone.  This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by anyone other than Rue and Hyssop.

Make sure you are back here on October 1st to put your name in the pumpkin, and keep checking in!  Click the pumpkin photo in the sidebar on the right to see the latest giveaway and leave your comment there.

Comments on this post do not count toward the giveaways.

Sep 28, 2014

Harbingers and Harvests

The harbingers of Autumn have heralded their news of the last of the harvest season, and have begun to fly south, or fatten up for either hibernation, or in preparation to weather the cold months ahead. Yesterday morning the mist rolled across the meadows for the first time, another portent to remind us that the chimneys had better be swept and the furnaces serviced. Although we're enjoying warm weather still, the nights have cooled, and that mist tells us that the earth is beginning to relinquish her warmth, in the embrace of the frosty, early morning air.  

These are the best of days.  The midday heat is comfortable and friendly, perfect for exploring. The summer tourists have left to make way for the wine connoisseurs and the back roads are full of charming little buses carrying ruddy-cheeked grape enthusiasts to the Valley's approximately 140 wineries.  

The evenings are still gorgeous, the last of the light slipping away earlier and earlier, leaving us with the beginnings of sweater weather, and encouraging fires, warm drinks, and blankets. Now is the time of drawing close. Of ghost stories and preparation for that most magical month that is waiting right outside the door. 

I've harvested the mugwort - for the third time.  The robust, happy plant was seeded only two summers ago under the moon at midnight, sung in to the earth with a charm. I hoped for growth. I never expected the level of abundance I've witnessed this year.  Some has been shared, and much dried for incense, dream pillows, and more.

Add a nice pinch of mugwort to some hot water to make an infusion and use as a wash for your crystal ball or scrying bowl or mirror.  

I'm also waiting on the black nightshade berries to see if they will ripen. The plant appeared in my garden so late in the season, I can't be sure that the little green berries will blush dark as night and be safe to harvest.  If not, there's always next year.

Because a good frost has not yet come, the tomatoes, cucumber, and squash keep producing. There is salsa to be made now, as there is no more room for tomatoes on the counter, or windowsill, or in baskets all over the house. A ridiculous blessing, this little piece of land that keeps on giving.

Has your harvest finished now, or is your garden, your flower box, your potted indoor basil plant still offering up delights?  Let's enjoy the harvest just a little longer, shall we?

Sep 25, 2014

Little Witcheries - It's In The Bag

Fall has arrived, if not by weather, then by date. Seasonal folklore is rich this time of year. There are even certain seasonal rituals that involve swapping out clothing colours or shoe styles.  I've never been much for observing the "no white after Labour Day" rule, but I do enjoy changing out my purse when the light and dark hours shift.  Packed away is the bohemian shoulder bag for road tripping and the blue and white polka-dot summer purse, and out comes the brown bag with the faintest pattern that at first appears to be fleur de lys, but on closer inspection reveals grinning skulls.

When I do a handbag-swap, I always make a bit of a ritual out of it.  I pull every item out of the purses to be packed away, and then give them a good shake-out.  If they are of a material that can be wiped with a damp cloth or even spritzed lightly with a gentle soap or cleaner, I do that to get rid of any dust, or other random materials like that melted peanut butter M&M pen ink or makeup residue.  If the purse is leather, white, or made from a porous fabric, I dry dust it.  If it needs a touch more help, I'll do an inconspicuous spot test before using water or soap on it.

Once the purse is as clean as possible, I'll give it a good spray with my Prosperity Spray, or an annointing with an oil that draws money or success, or fumigate it with an incense that is made with ingredients that do the same.  Even though the purse is going back in the closet, it doesn't hurt to keep that money vibration working in it.  The very last thing I do is ensure that there is some actual money left in the bag.  Just as it is considered poor luck (or in poor taste) to receive or gift a purse with no money in it (for then it will stay empty), I never store a purse without some kind of money in it - even if it's just a dime.

I do the same routine when bringing out a purse that has been stored.  A good shake to wake it up, a spritz, a dab, or a smoking of prosperity and/or luck-bringing herbs or oils, and I'm good to start packing my portables back into it.

Some other items that find their way into my purses include:

Citrine - considered the merchant's stone, because it is often found in cash registers or behind counters or doors in shops, citrine attracts money to your door and customers to your store.

Pyrite - this stone is the golden disco-ball that brings money and luck your way.

Cinquefoil or Five Fingered Grass - the five leaves are said to represent money, love, health, widsom and power.

Symbols and Sigils - jot down your money drawing, protection, or success sigils, or favourite power symbols and tuck them into your wallet or purse pockets. 

Powders - for those that make rootwork or Hoodoo style powders, a little pinch in your purse can amp up the money magic!

Lucky Coins - a found penny with your birth-year on it, a Mercury dime, a little Chinese good luck coin, or whatever coin catches your eye.

Nuts and Spices - whether you are looking for a bit of general luck, or if you are hot for the slot machines, try popping a horse chestnut (Canadians and Brits call them "conkers" and Americans call them "buckeyes") or a whole nutmeg or cinnamon stick in your purse.

"'s not a man purse - it's called a satchel." ~ Alan  (The Hangover)

As for the gentlemen who happen by this post, I'm going to suggest that the same tips apply. Whether you use a wallet or a satchel, if it is leather avoid the sprays and oils, and stick with powders or censing.  It's going to be a touch uncomfortable sitting on a citrine, so if you carry a wallet, stick with your sigils or a pressed cinquefoil, tucked behind a seldom-used card, or hidden in the bottom of your bill fold.  And always keep a bill in your wallet - even if it's just $1 (or $5 for us Canadians with fewer denominations of paper money.)

May your purse or wallet always be full, and ever be attracting more money to it!

Photos via (and linked back to) WikiCommons

Sep 19, 2014

This Shifting and Turning

Tonight I sat outside and watched the sky blush pink. It was not the deep rose-purple of a summer sunset.  Instead the shade was a coral colour, stretching into tints that mimicked the salmon that are returning to our river to spawn.  It was warm, both in the hue of the sky and here on earth. The sultry months have extended their reach and show little sign of moving on just yet.

Monday or Tuesday, depending on your time zone, marks the autumnal equinox although the days and nights will not be equal here in the Valley until September 25th, when the sun will rise at 6:48am, and set at 6:49pm. By then, if we're lucky, we may see the tiniest sliver of new moon in the west, just before dark.  It all speaks of plentitude, harmony, and the continued journey (seeming ever-so-rapid these days) of our lives as we rocket around the sun.

After taking a good look at what our work has brought in as harvest, it only seems right to celebrate and acknowledge our own labour, as well as the unseen hands (hooves, paws, claws) that tend to us. It is a lovely time for a feast, a dance around the flames, or a literal (or figurative) roll in the hay as the final crops are laid bare in the fields.

I've started burning things again - as I do.  This year some of the herbs were very happy so there has been a surplus of dried stalks to save for future fires.  Tonight I was fumigated by sprigs of lavender and sagebrush twigs, and I was so thankful for the simple pleasure of having a fire bowl in my backyard to linger over.

This year has been transitory (aren't they all, really) and as well as flying by, it has seemed to take on the task of preparing me for what's to come in the next few years.  I'm sensing a big change, but I haven't quite grasped the edges of it yet.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, I'm working with a naturopath, taking a few online courses, tending the bumper crop of tomatoes, carrots, beets, and cucumbers, and gearing up for the October madness that waves hello from just over that hill...

Will you celebrate the delicious descent into autumn?  Will you feast, fire, and dance, or quietly give a nod to the movement of the hour hand of the year?

I hope it blesses you, this shifting and turning, I truly do.

Sep 7, 2014

Making a (Magical) Effort

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.  I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”   
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Sara wrote a post over at Candlesmoke Chapel this past week about her difficulty connecting to the deity/spirit that she feels has been calling to her, and I'm thankful that she chose to share her frustration - and here's why:  Sara does the work.  And the work isn't always easy.

Sometimes our practice seems more accessible.  After you've put in the time.  The meditations, the journeying, the crafting, the circle casting, the dirt digging, the ecstasy - the roads open faster.  You don't have to wait at the gate anymore.  You've done the work and the door is wide for you. And those on the other side are expecting you. They know you. You've lit the candles and whispered the prayers or shouted the chants, and you've left the offerings.  And they've been accepted. You have been accepted.

It's convenient to stay in that place, where everything is safe, and you create the same charms and speak the same words, and the door always seems to be open.  

But I don't think this path is supposed to be easy.

Sometimes new spirits approach, and you aren't sure how to connect.  Or you end up on a new land base and are left with the task of introducing yourself.  You may seek to learn new work (or likely old work), and feel defeated when it isn't so effortless.  Your divinatory tools or skills may wane or fall flat.  Your full, fiery, never-tiring heart may just burn the hell out.  

At times, it's going to be ridiculously, agonizingly, difficult.  And struggle isn't reserved for the newbies.  The old hands, the hereditary lines, the ones who found a book at ten years old and never looked back - they don't get a free pass.  Experience doesn't mean it will never get challenging.

I am still new.  I've been actively working at this strange, enchanted path for a little less than seven years.  And most days, I feel like I know nothing.  

Two weeks ago, during the dark moon, I was planning a particular working where I felt that a circle would be beneficial.  I don't always use a circle - it often isn't practical for the work I do. But in this case, it seemed like a good idea.  As I was getting ready, I felt a very real fear.

What if they don't come?  What if no one shows?  What if I'm just standing here while the spirits are off partying somewhere and they don't want to lend a hand or sing backup?

I didn't forget how to throw up a circle.  I had left my offerings and done my due diligence, and practiced my little witcheries.  But I'd been ignoring some things too.  I'd been holding up the "I can't see you" hand, trying not to look through my fingers at the messages coming my way all summer. 

The spirits are not your dogs.  You don't get to kick them and then expect them to show.  You can't ignore them and then throw a lasso up in the hopes of catching one to work with you.

In the end, my circle was perfect and those I invited, came through.  But it was a great reminder that the work is never done.  There is no resting on your laurels or wearing a "Hecate Is My Homegirl" t-shirt and expecting the spirits to be constantly riding shotgun.

Do the work, culitivate patience (as Sara says), and don't be surprised if it sometimes feels a bit like swimming upstream.  The effort is worth it.

picture courtesy of wiki commons
"A Visit to the Witch" by Edward Frederick Brewtnall (1846-1902)